Monday, October 17, 2016

Strange Takes On God!

This tale told over three dynamite issues of Marvel Premiere is one of my all-time favorite Doc Strange yarns. It's the first story by Steve Englehart and Frank Brunner which they themselves initiated (with a little help from their friends). In their previous outings on the series, they had been wrapping up stories begun by diverse talents, but here they are able to plow ahead with their own vision of Earth's newly dubbed "Sorcerer Supreme".

After defeating Shuma-Gorath at long last, Doctor Strange is getting used to his new role as the number one magician in this reality and is found by Clea and Wong in a state of meditating. He has a hard time remembering all the mundane details of daily life but eventually gets a grip. He then seeks out his old enemy Baron Mordo to tell him about the new status quo (anyone for "I told you so") and runs up against a gypsy witch and a deadly living gargoyle.

Then he learns that Mordo had a deadly plan which forces Doc to travel back in time to the era of the legendary Cagliostro. We learn that Cagliostro though is not who he seems anymore, but rather an enterprising magician from the distant future named Sise-Neg who is traveling back through time to increase his allotment of the available magical power in any given era. Mordo wants to become his ally and Doc wants to defeat him.

They follow Sise-Neg ever further into the past as he grows ever more powerful, and encounter Sir Lancelot and even  Shuma-Gorath again, but eventually find themselves at the very beginning of creation itself. Sise-Neg announces that his motives have altered with is newly acquired powers and prespectives and that instead of altering the future to insure his dominance, he will merely re-ignite all creation as it was in the beginning. When he reveals his new name of "Genesis" it becomes clear he is either now "God" or something akin to the ultimate deity or part of his ultimate plan all along. Reality now safe, Doc heads back to world of 1974 while Mordo does less well.

My research tells me that Sise-Neg was a co-creation of Englehart, Brunner and Neal Adams. Certainly the style of Adams can be seen in the character but I did not know he had a direct hand in his creation. The early issues of the run were inked by "The Crusty Bunkers", the group of artists in the Adams and Giordano studio, so I suppose this has some connection. Would love to know more.

More Doctor Strange to come as the Pope pops up.

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  1. I can remember being about 12 years old. I lucked into finding Marvel Premiere #12 and #14 (missing #13 completely.) To the credit of the Bullpen in those days, even though this was a fairly complicated storyline – you could pick up any one of those single issues – and still understand what was going on pretty easily…And these Englehart stories about Cagliostro/Sise-Neg pretty effectively blew my mind out my left ear and back again at that young age. I remember even loaning these issues out to my older brother and various other not-so-serious comix reading friends of mine, and trying to communicate to them: “This! This is the Stuff!” – as far as comics not being the usual childish fodder lot of people thought it was in 1972/1973…Dang – another must-have collection for the Bucket List to track down…(insert Smiley Face emoticon here.)

    1. I was a little older than you when I first bought this stuff off the stands, but like you the material here rocked me. While I see now the notion of a time traveler becoming (or playing) God is a minor cliche, this was my first encounter with the concept and it was a clever turn indeed.

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  2. I've just come home with the Dr. Strange Epic Collection which, I'm sure, included this material. I'll be doing a brief post on the volume later.


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